Spring usually means sunny days and mild weather, but in Bucks County, Penn., the spring season is also running season.

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Spring means warmer weather and longer days, but in Bucks County, Penn., spring also means it's time for the Bucks 5K Series, a sequence of seven individual 3.1-mile (5-kilogram) races that take place from March through June. The series caters to runners, racers and rookies alike.

The Bucks 5K Series started out as the vision of Susan Pajer of Training Zone Sports, a local running and swimming specialty store. Bucks County has always had many spring races -- some even competing for runners on the same day. Pajer came up with the idea to combine several of the races into a single series; in 1996, the Bucks County Spring Challenge Series -- now known as the Panera Bread Bucks 5K Series -- got its start.

In spring 2010, the series celebrated its 15th year and attracted more than 4,350 5K runners and 1,400 fun runners, an 8 percent increase over the year before [source: Panera Bread Bucks 5K Series].

The series includes the following seven races:

  1. The Central Bucks Family YMCA 5K
  2. The New Hope-Solesbury Spirit Run 5K
  3. The Bridge Valley Trailblazer Race for Autism 5K
  4. The Cornerstone 5K
  5. The Johnny King-Merino presents the SERTOMA 5K
  6. The Doylestown Red, White & Blue 5K
  7. The Chalfont Challenge 5K

Each race includes a 5K as well as a fun run. Runners can participate in one race or all seven. Many running and fitness enthusiasts sign up for all seven runs to accumulate points and compete for a series award.

The runners race for a good cause as well. Over the past five years, the Bucks County 5K Series has raised more than $100,000 annually to support numerous local nonprofit organizations [source: Panera Bread Bucks 5K Series]. The races benefit the Central Bucks Family YMCA's financial assistance program, New Hope-Solesbury's scholarship and athletic fund, the Bucks County Autism Support Coalition, Doylestown Hospital, SERTOMA (a group that provides assistance to those with speech and hearing impairments), Bucks for Kids, OLMC School, Doylestown Community and Business Alliance, and Chalfont's park and trails development program.

In addition to supporting worthwhile causes, the Bucks 5K Series helps many people to get in shape, set fitness goals and share in the camaraderie of running with others.

Read on to learn more about the Bucks 5K Series routes.